After graduation, I had the unique opportunity to teach art at my high school alma mater. In the span of nine years, I developed a comprehensive art and photography program in a Title I secondary school with 95% minority students in Miami-Dade County. My preferred method of teaching was choice-based or learner directed, even though I was trained to deliver a skill-based curriculum. I found that learner-directed art education guided students' self-selected inquiries and fueled self-motivation for learning. During my tenure in public school teaching, I earned a Master of Science degree in Art Education and accomplished certification for National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 2008.
National Board Certification taught me the value of reflective practice as a pathway to sustaining a long, fruitful, fulfilling career in education. The gift of mentorship I received by energetic, experienced, savvy board-certified art teachers provided me with new insights about and possibilities for my practice. The process of achieving National Board required that I articulate and analyze my teaching and assess my students' learning to inform future strategies for engagement. Through this powerful, critical analysis of my work, I gained the confidence and language to convey (in a way that non-artists, administrators, and policymakers would value and support) the dynamic, individualized, self-motivated, and sophisticated student learning that occurs in a learner-directed, rigorous arts education program.
I sustained my inquiry into adolescents' artistic processes programs throughout my doctoral studies in Art Education at The Florida State University (FSU). Under the considerate direction of Tom Anderson, I wrote a dissertation titled, Examining Critical and Creative Thinking of High School Students Making Art in a Learner-Directed Art Class. While at FSU, I taught contemporary and historical issues in art education, curriculum and programs, and mentored student teachers. The icing on the cake of my doctorate degree was graduating at the same time as my students, the FSU Master of Art in Teaching Cohort 2014.
My artistic practice is grounded in my experiences as an educator and largely consists of photographic portraits in traditional color medium. In 2009, I was generously given a RA4 traditional color paper processor for my high school classroom. There was no question that my office space would be transformed into a color darkroom for art students. I tested, calibrated, and set up the machine using simple images of the school surroundings. As the test prints emerged and hung on the bulletin boards of the color correcting lights, my students asked me to take their portraits. Enthusiasm grew for the portraits as class participants saw the images of their classmates emerge. They examined the test prints of slightly magenta, cyan, and yellow prints saying, "I want you to take my picture with my Mohawk -my birthday balloon - my bow - my grills....for my boyfriend - girlfriend - my mom." I carefully crafted the images for them to keep as a memory and to share with their family. Parents generously granted me permission to share the work as a series of young artists.
I am in the process of experimenting with a new series of photographic images grounded in my role as faculty at MICA. But this time the images documented are grounded in the research question, "What is it like become an art teacher?"
Adriane Pereira, Ph.D, is a full-time faculty member in the Art Education, MA graduate program in The Center for Art Education. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Boston University, a Master of Science in Art Education from Florida International University, and a Ph.D. from Florida State University. Pereira is an artist and an educator, with several professional teaching certifications in the state of Florida. She continues to maintain an active artistic practice, and regularly presents her teaching and research at state and national conferences.